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Sharks beef up blue line by acquiring defenceman Niclas Wallin from Hurricanes

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks bolstered their defence by acquiring Niclas Wallin in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

San Jose also acquired a fifth-round pick in 2010 and sent a 2010 second-rounder - that previously belonged to Buffalo - to the Hurricanes to complete the deal.

"We think he is the right combination of a playoff-hardened player and also has tremendous character," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "We think he fits in and complements and enhances our team. The beauty is we didn't have to give up any player on our team to add a player like Niclas."

The Sharks had been planning to add experience to the blue line after shuttling defencemen back and forth from Worcester of the AHL for much of the season.

The 34-year-old Wallin, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, has spent all nine of his NHL seasons with Carolina, with 18 career goals and 51 assists. He played in 69 playoff games, the second-most in club history, helping the Hurricanes reach the Stanley Cup finals twice, winning it in 2006.

"It's another guy who has been through it," Wilson said. "You always look for guys who can play their best hockey at that time of year. I think it's a good piece for our hockey team that complements how our defence is set up."

He developed a reputation for scoring overtime goals in the playoffs: All three of his career post-season goals came in extra sessions, and he even "blessed" defenceman Tim Gleason's stick before Gleason's OT game-winner in Game 2 of last year's first-round series with New Jersey.

He has five assists and 26 penalty minutes in 47 games this season and ranks 15th among all NHL defencemen with 125 hits.

"I try to play a simple game," he said. "I like to play a physical game. I like to close the gap and go down low and play aggressive in our own end. That's probably how I play the game."

The deal sends Wallin from a team tied for last place in the Eastern Conference to the top team in the West. The Sharks lead the Western Conference with 85 points. The Sharks won the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular-season record in the league a year ago before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Anaheim.

"This is like winning the lottery," Wallin said. "You get to play on a team that obviously has a chance to go all the way. I've been there and there's nothing like it. This team has every tool to do it."

The Sharks wanted to make this deal before rosters were frozen for the Olympic break beginning Feb. 15. This gives them more time to get Wallin acclimated into their system before the start of the playoffs.

Wallin is expected to make his debut for the Sharks on Monday night in Toronto. San Jose has four games before the break.

Wallin played with Sharks defender Douglas Murray on the Swedish national team at the 2008 world championships and hopes that will help the transition.

"He's going be a big help for me coming over there, giving me some pointers," Wallin said. "It's always an easier thing when you have a guy from the same country. The first couple of weeks he can give me some pointers."


AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.


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